• Symmetry, exploitation in Kenya

What surprised me most about the screening of Paradise: Love I attended on Saturday night was how much warm laughter I heard in the audience. I was familiar going in with the work of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, so I knew to expect shocking imagery that blurred the line between art and exploitation; I even anticipated that some viewers would leave early in disgust (as they did at the Chicago premiere of Seidl’s Import/Export in 2008). But much of the audience, to my ears, seemed to accept the film’s explicit nudity and sex—most of which involves overweight women in their 50s and 60s—as part of an artistic vision and not as mere shock value. In any case, I didn’t hear much of the uncomfortable or derisive laughter that greeted Lee Daniels’s The Paperboy when I saw it at the Landmark Century a week ago. Daniels’s film is as outrageous in its sexual content as Paradise: Love—in fact, the polymorphous perverse relationship it depicts between Zac Efron and Macy Gray may be more radical than anything shown in Seidl’s. But it opened here under a markedly different aura than Paradise, which may have something to do with the different responses.